Sunday, 25 May 2014
Flies pause while 200 neurons help with tough decisions
Just like us, fruit flies dwell on difficult decisions, according to a study published in the journal Science.
They spend more time choosing between a strong and a weak smell if the difference is small.
The research links this deliberation to a particular gene, FoxP, and the activity of fewer than 200 neurons.
Mutations in FoxP, also associated with cognition and language in humans, made flies' decisions even slower without affecting which choice they made.
Gathering information before committing to a decision is a hallmark of intelligence. If the information is unclear, the choice is trickier and the decision takes more time.
We do it, other primates do it, even rats and mice do it - but now it seems that flies do too.Confident choices
"This is the clearest evidence yet of a cognitive process running in a very simple brain," said Prof Gero Miesenböck, whose team did the work at the University of Oxford's Centre for Circuits and Behaviour.read more
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